What does it take to become winner of the International Van of the Year (Ivoty) award? Over the 27 years of honouring van brands and models with the most prestigious prize in the light commercial vehicle sector, the criteria remain the same: victory is decided by innovation, creating efficiencies, being environmentally friendly and safety, writes JARLATH SWEENEY, editor of Fleet magazine
Groupe PSA entered the 2019 competition with three new van designs in one – meaning they each share platform, bodyshell and drivetrains, together with advanced comfort and safety technologies. With great success, the new-generation Peugeot Partner and Citroën Berlingo, along with new family member the Opel/Vauxhall Combo, scooped the main trophy by exceeding the elements of the entry requirements.
Innovation can be seen in every angle of the design of the vehicles. Up to 20 driver-assist systems are available (many of which come from Groupe PSA’s car division). The Overload Alert system is noteworthy here, as it helps with compliance and avoiding overloading.
Van drivers deserve these safety systems as they spend more time at the wheel than most professional drivers. Numerous fittings have been installed to protect the driver and passengers, as well as the vulnerable road user, particularly in the urban areas. Surround rear-vision cameras come to mind here.
Further efficiencies can be gained through a well thought out, ergonomically designed cabin, which aids in increasing productivity. A new-generation infotainment system delivers top levels of in-car entertainment with the easy-to-operate touchscreen system that is comparable to smartphones or notebooks.
A redeveloped powertrain ensures reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) by lowering fuel consumption and introducing a new eight-speed self-shifting transmission. An all-electric model (developed in-house) is being worked on at the moment.
Versatility comes through the two wheelbase options now available, and the creation of an all-wheel drive (AWD) version, which will appeal to utility companies. Supporting these applications are the specialised work and grip versions; the latter with slightly higher ground clearance.
Since late last year, the Ivoty jury engaged with Groupe PSA from when the new van trio prototypes were ready for analysing and driving. Separately, Peugeot, Citroën and Opel held events as the development stages progressed, which included a visit to the factory in Vigo, Spain where engineering development vehicles were driven.
These activities provided a vital insight into the success of the three-way joint collaboration, with Opel/Vauxhall’s design and engineering team involved from day one, as per an agreement signed with Groupe PSA and General Motors Europe, prior to the two companies eventually coming together.
Opel’s input came to the fore during the final exercise for the adjudication panel. At the German brand’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, an extensive test-drive programme was undertaken with several body styles and powertrains from the three brands. Exclusive drives of the newly developed all-wheel-drive versions at the ADAC centre near Frankfurt were the main points of interest on this occasion.
The new-generation Peugeot Partner and Opel Combo have both been confirmed for South African introduction during 2019. The Partner will arrive during the second quarter, the Combo during March. Keep an eye on all the FOCUS channels for updates – ed.
Groupe PSA Peugeot Partner | Citroën Berlingo | Opel Combo
Segment: LCV B-segment panel van (three seats)
Body Types: Standard – 4,4 m. Long – 4,75 m
Cargo Capacity: 440 m3
Payload: 1 000 kg
Load Length: 3 460 mm
Load Sill Height: 580 mm
Engines: 1.2-litre petrol Euro 6d – 81 kW at 5 500 r/min
1.5-litre diesel Euro 6d – 56 / 75 kW at 3 500 r/min
1.5-litre diesel Euro 6d – 96 kW at 3 750 r/min
Torque: 1,2-litre petrol – 205 Nm
1,5-litre diesel 230/250/330 at 1 750 r/min
Safety Systems: Overhead Indicator; Surround Rear Vision Camera; Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking
Transmission: Five- and six-speed manual / eight-speed automatic
Wheelbase: Standard – 2 785 mm. Long – 2 977 mm